The CCAAT/enhancer binding protein beta (C/EBP beta) is implicated in the regulation of many different molecular and physiological processes. Mice with a germline deletion of C/EBP beta (C/EBP beta(-/-)) display phenotypes in a multitude of cell types and organ systems, including skin where C/EBP beta(-/-) mice exhibit increased apoptosis in epidermal keratinocytes in response to carcinogen treatment and are completely resistant to carcinogen-induced skin tumorigenesis. To determine the contribution of systemic versus cell autonomous functions of C/EBP beta to specific phenotypes, mice with a conditional 'floxed' C/EBP beta null allele were generated. Epidermal-specific deletion of C/EBP beta was achieved by Cre recombinase expression from a keratin 5 (K5) promoter. Similar to C/EBP beta(-/-) mice, K5-Cre;C/EBP beta(fl/fl) mice were completely refractory to 7,12 dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced skin tumorigenesis and these mice displayed increased DMBA-induced apoptosis in epidermal keratinocytes compared to wild-type mice. In contrast, mice lacking the related gene, C/EBP delta, were not resistant to DMBA-induced skin tumorigenesis, indicating a unique role of C/EBP beta in skin tumor development. Our findings demonstrate that C/EBP beta exerts an essential, keratinocyte-intrinsic role in cell survival in response to carcinogen treatment and the elimination of C/EBP beta in keratinocytes is sufficient to confer complete resistance of the skin to chemical carcinogenesis.
Oncogene (2006) 25, 1272-1276. doi:10.1038/sj.onc.1209144; published online 3 October 2005.